Atherosclerosis

Also known as: arteriosclerosis, arteriosclerotic vascular disease, ASVD.

What is atherosclerosis?

The process starts in childhood which over time narrows the arteries that contribute to a number of heart and circulatory problems usually later in life. It is unusual for children/adolescents to have the complications associated with significant atherosclerosis (heart attack and stroke).
 

What causes atherosclerosis?

Risk factors for atherosclerosis include a family history of heart attack or stroke, obesity (and the metabolic syndrome), depression/bipolar disorders, smoking (and/or exposure to cigarette smoke), high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a number of medical problems like diabetes, chronic kidney disease and many others.
 

What are the symptoms of atherosclerosis? 

At first, atherosclerosis might not cause any symptoms. Over time, it can contribute to the development of blood clots, chest pain, coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke and a variety of other circulatory problems.
 

What are atherosclerosis care options? 

Treatment approaches include lifestyle choices, decreasing risk factors where possible and medications. In severe instances, catheters can be used along with a balloon to enlarge the artery (angioplasty) and stents can be placed in them. Bypass surgery, where a blood vessel is surgically inserted to go around the blocked portion, is also a potential treatment.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 3/23/2018 2:06:30 PM

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Anthony Rossi, MD of Nicklaus Children's Hospital is the Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine with The Heart Program.


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